'Are you a Returner or a Stay-at-Homer after Freedom Day?'

EMBARGOED TO 0001 FRIDAY APRIL 9 File photo dated 04/03/20 of a woman using a laptop on a dining roo

The new divide: Returners v Stay-At-Homers - Credit: PA

Working from home… love it or hate it, when we had no choice we were, at least, all in the same boat (house, flat, shed).

Now that we’ve been given the green(ish) light to “get on with our lives” and return to normal, things are not so clear cut.

There’s now the big divide. The Returners (those who think we should all be back in the office) versus the Stay-at-Homers (those who prefer remote working).

The Returners feel it’s time to move on, they’ve had their jabs (or not) and feel we should just learn to live with Covid-19.

Furthermore, Gen Z Returners, who are currently living at home are completely fed up with working from their childhood bedrooms/the kitchen table/a sofa in the lounge.


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They want to actually experience the myth of office life, meet their colleagues in person. They’ve heard all the stories of yore and they sound wonderful.

Shelley-Anne Salisbury

Shelley-Anne wonders whether home workers will be seen as inferior employees - Credit: 1000words.co.za

On the other hand, the Stay-at-Homers are happy to remain working from home. It’s really very convenient.

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Trackie-clad from the waist down, a less than one minute commute from the bedroom to the "desk" - and when there are no meetings they can simply dispense with the commute.

Employers say productivity is down when staff work from home but can they really force anyone into the office when there is still a genuine concern about Covid?

The July 19 "Freedom Day" heralded the big sea change but urged caution – a mixed message if ever there was one. The Delta variant abounds and other variants are a constant threat. Mask or no mask? Vaccine or no vaccine? These are the current questions. Can employees be discriminated against for refusing either or both?

It’s a veritable minefield of legal issues.

And then there’s the potential discrimination concern. Will the Stay-at Homers be perceived as "inferior" employees? Will salary increases and promotions be weighted in favour of the Returners? Will Returners be disparaging of the Stay-at Homers? Will resentment abound? Clocking off has a whole new meaning.

It’s going to be interesting. Watch this space – either from home or the office.

Shelley-Anne Salisbury is a mediator, writer and the co-editor of Suburb News, themediationpod.net

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